Chapter 10 - The King's Tainted Mate

Fate had come to bite me in my behind. The moment I had stepped into my study and had been bathed in waves and waves of that sweet scent, I knew that to be true. It was her.

She still held on to the ring. That familiar piece of jewellery I had held so many times before while I dreamed of gifting it to the one who’d held my heart even without knowing. My perfect other half…her.

"How do you have that?" My voice was barely a whisper but she'd heard it as recognition flashed in her beautiful eyes. She had shifted! I wanted to howl in jubilation, just as I had the day I'd met her.

"His highness asked you a question!" Someone sneered, but I was too distracted to care.

She'd pinned me with a hard stare, but I did not care for it either. She was giving me all the attention I had desired the first time I saw her. Her blazing silver eyes…those beautiful things dangled her very furious wolf in front of me, making my insides melt. Suddenly I wished to meet her. To meet her wolf. I had every reason to believe hers would be the most glorious thing to ever grace my sight.

"I don't know!" Her growl knocked me off my feet. If I thought her voice was beautiful, this animalistic version of it was simply soul melting. I slumped in my seat, unable to take in this magical creature that was my mate. My mate…I blinked, my mind choosing that very moment to remind me of my mistake. She was no longer mine!

The truth slammed into me, burning every one of my fantasies to ash as her blazing eyes and the hate in them thrust me down memory lane anew. Back to the exact moment I made certain of it. Only this time the path was laid with thorns. Briars laced with poison. My own poison. I shifted in my seat as that poison seeped all the way down to my soul. The treacherous things pierced, slashed and stung as I was forced to face every bitter word, every accusation, the punishment I had so generously lavished on her…My choice of a chosen mate…

“I do hereby reject you Shyla, as my mate and future queen. As for you Myrna, I choose you today as my chosen mate, future queen and the mother to my heirs.

If cutting out my tongue would have served to unsay those words, I would have gladly begged for the sharpest dagger to get the deed done. Regret did not even begin to describe how I felt as I relived what just turned out to be my worst mistake. I wished I had the power to turn back the hands of time. I was never one to make such childish wishes, but in that moment, as I stared at the royal jewel in her hands, I was as a clueless child wishing upon the stars. I couldn’t help but wish hers was not the dress I had slipped the ring into. I wished the maiden who’d perfectly fit every part of me that night and made me feel things I had not felt before was not her. I wished the memory of that night was a mere fantasy conjured up by my drunken mind.

"You don't know? Do you think this is a joke? Your king asked you–"

"He's no king of mine. He's nothing to me!"

“He’s nothing to me!” Her gaze was every bit bitter, her voice…that sweet sound suddenly turned into the sharpest of weapons, piercing my heart with her declaration and making the regret brewing in my soul thicken. My eyes flickered to my best friend. I did not know what I sought there, but Rakon’s apologetic expression spoke of the hopeless situation unfolding before my eyes. I was all on my own…like she had been when I so selfishly tossed her aside without so much as giving her a chance to speak for herself.

“How do you have that?” Despite the obvious, my misplaced hope had me repeating my question as I prayed for my wishes to come to true.

“I did not steal the damn thing! Neither do I know how it got into my garment and if his Majesty wishes to have it back, he can have it!” My mate growled as the ring she’d thrown my way rolled and landed at my feet. It was a great insult to Xatis, to me as its king, but it wasn’t my pride that was wounded as she confirmed what I’d feared.

“She just lost her innocence last night in a less than glamorus way.” I dared to look up, sought my mate’s eyes as her sister’s words hit me. The words that had pierced my heart and changed everything. They still rang true. My mate was still guilty. She had betrayed our bond. She was tainted… and I was the reason she had become all that. Me! I had betrayed us and she had paid for it all!

My wolf whimpered as a sharp pain slashed my heart, sending me sinking further in my seat. What had I done? My throat tightened when my gaze fell on my mate.

She was glaring at my soldier, making me realize that I was still putting her through hell with all this unnecessary interrogation. She was no thief. What kind of a monster was I?

"Are you calling his highness a liar?! You dare insult your–"

I was on my soldier's throat before his blow could land on her face.

“Your Majesty!” Rakon was by my side in a flash, eyes begging me to let the man go as he was merely doing was he was charged to do, but instinct to protect my mate over ran every rational part of my being. I didn’t even stop to think how that was possible when I had rejected her. Or was it my sorry attempt at righting all my wrongs against her.

"Don't you dare!" My canines sank in the soldier’s flesh and I would have teared at it if not for the presence of another surprising scent that had me and my wolf snapping towards our mate. Now that I was this close, I could smell it. It was still faint, but there was no mistaking it. With my sins momentarily forgotten, I drew closer and inhaled.

Right in the midst of her sweet sugary scent, hid that natural scent of a pregnant she wolf that I had sought to smell on my chosen mate since our wedding night. Was it mine? I couldn't help the warm feelings that bubbled within me at the thought.

I let the man fall to the ground and pinned my mate with my gaze. “Is it mine?” I had no right, but I couldn’t stop myself. Despite what I had done, I wished for that child to mine. And because the thought of another wolf claiming her and being the father of her unborn child was driving me all kinds of insane. But instead of the answer I sought, another sharp pain struck my insides as my eyes widened at my mate. With hands clenched at her sides, the sight was a familiar one. …No! My hands clutched at my chest as I felt my heart shatter. She was in pain too. As cracks formed in our bond, pain seeped through, overwhelming me, but she kept speaking as if it was nothing, making me realize just how much I had hurt her if she could endure this much.

“I, Shyla, do hereby accept your rejection.”